The 'Couv'

The 'Couv'

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Happy Holidays!

Hey it's Christmas Day so I'm taking it off. I won't leave you empty handed however, take a look at this article from the archives about climate in Washington's wide ranging spaces.

This was originally posted here, by Rod Sager, June 4th, 2014

Real estate tends to perk up this time of year. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the temperature is warm. It is easy to get sucked into the greatest summer weather on this planet. But what about winter? Many retirees would love to have a little winter but hate the idea of shoveling snow. Here in Washington State we have options for your winter wonderland. There are places in the Evergreen State like Mount Baker, that have snow so heavy it rivals anywhere in the world. Fortunately those are places people visit rather than live. East of the Cascade Mountains delivers sunnier weather that is warmer in the summer and colder in the winter than this side here in the west. There are many areas that offer an in-between winter experience.

Here in America's Vancouver we have a very mild winter. It gets chilly but rarely gets truly cold. Heavy snow is a twice a decade event and light snow is sporadic every year throughout the winter from late November to early March. Not much shoveling here. As you move up in elevation so your shovel moves up in usage. Those gorgeous view homes up above 1000 feet will see on average double the snowfall down in the city. Move up another 1000 and it's triple.

West of the Cascades you will find the legendary Pacific Northwest clouds and showers. East of the Cascades is California Dry.

East of those mighty Cascade mountains the mercury will plunge down below zero at times and they tend to stay cold from December through February. The good news over there is that those same mountains that block the warm moist air of the Pacific Ocean also block allot of the clouds. Precipitaion on the eastside is dry, dry, dry. So it does snow often but in small doses. Again places like Ellensburg and the Tri-Cities don't have a heavy snow shovel workout.

Spokane will give you a healthy dose of snow with nearly 4 feet falling annually and that rivals Minneapolis. Spokane is not quite as bitter cold as Minnesota and has a shorter winter. If you hate the shovel stay out of the far eastern part of the state.

In case you are looking around in Washington State I have all these little charts for you to consider regarding snowfall and temps. Data was collected from the Western Climate Data Center.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Is Real Estate a Good Retirement Investment?

This is a challenging question. Anyone considering investment opportunities for retirement of otherwise should always consult both a professional in the field of either real estate or securities as well as a tax professional.

Real estate can be an excellent investment vehicle for retirees as well as just about anyone in a position to buy property. For retirees or those looking beyond now to the retirement years, it has both pros and cons and both sides should be analyzed before investing.

Over the years I have been both a Realtor® and a financial adviser. I have always been surprised by the number of people that think real estate is a safe investment. Let's be clear, real estate as an owner occupied property is almost always a good thing. But venturing into investment real estate is a whole different animal. Real Estate is neither safe, nor is it stronger as a long term cash investment than many other vehicles. In my 2010 book, 'Don't Panic' I have a chapter dedicated to debunking some common myths about the security and investment value of real estate.

Some might think, "Geez, you're a Realtor®, you should be all in on real estate." I am all in on real estate, but I am also all in on truth and having my clients go in 'eyes wide open'. Historically, real estate has appreciated in value at a rate of about 6.5% annually. Blue chip large cap stocks average about 8%. As a cash investment the large caps are going to perform better and have less risk. There is a bit more short term volatility with the large cap stocks, but that is tempered by better liquidity. For long term investing large cap stocks are almost a buy and forget deal. Maybe a quarterly review and portfolio rebalance, but really not a lot of "work." real estate will keep you busy and can nickle and dime the checkbook with repairs, maintenance, etc.

The biggest advantage to real estate as an investment has much less to do with market gains and much more to do with leverage. Investment real estate is a high value asset that can be easily acquired with only 20% down. Even the richest people in the world can only leverage half of their stock portfolio, but real estate can leveraged to 80% pretty easily. Only the wealthiest among us can afford to buy stocks and other market securities in the $300,000 plus range, yet ordinary Americans, can often by investment properties in the $300k range.

The ability to take 50,000 in cash and leverage an asset worth $250k is the real power of real estate. Typically real estate values grow faster than the rate of interest on the purchase loan. But an investor is getting an average 6.5% rate of return on a $250,000 asset with only $50,000 invested. This is where real estate is king. The property is generating income in the form of rent while enjoying a modest growth in appreciation over time. The one-two punch of real estate is hard to beat when leveraging it with loans, however even as a cash investment, real estate is still solid. The issue with rental properties is much more complex than most people want to deal with, especially in their retirement years. One can always have a professional manage the properties but then that erodes the profit. Real estate is a busy activity for investors, but those that choose it rarely are disappointed.

For retirees or those looking ahead to retirement, real estate has some additional advantages. At age 62, reverse mortgages become an available option, and in some cases investment real estate can be converted to IRA funds. These are complicated systems that should always be discussed with proper professionals before action is taken. A reverse mortgage allows a qualifying senior the opportunity to draw the equity out of their primary residence as cash income for the rest of their lives. This is in effect an real estate annuity. With rates over the last several years being so low, this has been a solid tool for seniors. However rates may reach a point in the future where the reverse mortgage loses appeal.

People in their late 30s to early 40's willing to carry a few rental properties may find themselves in an excellent position upon retirement. Check with your trusted pros and see how you might fare with a real estate portfolio as you prepare for retirement. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Should Retirees Avoid areas with Strong Economies?

That seems like an odd question, right? Frankly, it is odd, yet there is merit to thinking it through. A strong economy is very important for many reasons. There are lots of job opportunities, local governments tend to be flush with cash to keep things operating smoothly, property values tend to rise, etc. So why would all that be anything but great for a retiree? The answer is not yes or no, but rather, "it depends."

Generally retirees are not too concerned with the job market they are after all, 'retired'. Retirees are generally living in the last house they will ever own so property values that are high simply reduce the amount of house they can afford and any future profit is deferred to heirs.

But retirees living in an area with a depressed economy have other things to be concerned with. Crime, quality of services, etc. The retiree may be able to buy a much larger and nicer property in an area that is not experiencing an economic boom, thus quality of life could be enhanced.

In the end it really does depend. Retirees that are going to be on a tight budget may want to consider areas that are not quite as booming so as to keep housing expenses reasonable. Retirees in the middle of the financial pack can consider either scenario and those that are in really strong shape would probably benefit from the robust economic conditions of a boom economy.

Regardless of the financial standing of the retiree, a strong housing market is a valuable friend so long as the property is owned and not rented. Even though the appreciation in value is likely to benefit heirs, there are scenarios whereby that equity can be leveraged by the retiree later in life. A reverse mortgage for example can provide income later in life should other resources become scarce.

There are a great many things to consider before making that decision on where to retire. Consulting a professional financial planner is typically a wise move. Washington State offers a wide variety of areas spreading across a large swath of incomes and property values. No income tax and senior discounts on property taxes for qualifying seniors makes Washington State a fantastic place to retire.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Getaway destinations for the winter blues...

I posted this a few years ago and it still rings true today!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Warm Getaways that are Close!
As we transition into the dark and gloomy fall and it's colder big brother, Winter, some of our residents begin to think about getaways to warmer climates. Sometimes a trip to Hawaii or the Caribbean are just a little too much dough or maybe just too long a trip. Sometimes a weekend getaway is just what the doctor ordered.

Here in Southwest Washington we have great access to one of America's favorite airports. From PDX there are many destinations that are less than three hours air time away.

Las Vegas, NV

753 miles flight @ 2:05 or drive 1054 miles from the 'Couv'

January average temps run 39 low and 58 high. January averages just about a half inch of rain; so dry is almost guaranteed. Vegas can be chilly as it sits at an elevation around 2500 feet. It is high and dry and still much warmer on average than most of Washington State in January

Vegas is a great getaway destination. Flight times out of PDX run about two hours flat. Vegas isn't just about gambling. This town draws people from around the world for food, spirits, conventions, shows and yes even some gambling from time to time.

Los Angeles, CA

824 miles flight @ 2:20 or drive 970 miles from the 'Couv'

January average temps run 48 low and 68 high. January averages just a hair over 3 inches of rain. Generally it all comes in one storm. So again dry is likely. And daytime temps in the upper 60s, Yeah, that doesn't happen here in January. LA is basically at sea level.

LA is huge, They have more people than Northern California, Oregon, and Washington COMBINED! I am pretty sure you can find something to do there. The area is served by multiple airports. It will be crowded however so keep that in mind.

Palm Springs, CA

868 miles flight @ 2:15 or drive 1075 miles from the 'Couv'

January average temps run 45 low and 71 high. January averages just about an inch of rain. This is not high desert as many people think. Palm Springs sits at just 440 feet above sea level. It can get chilly at night but not as bad as Vegas and daytime highs averaging in the 70s in the dead of winter is tough to complain about. Palm Springs is not afraid of tossing around some 90s in January either.

If you like golf, then this is your ticket. This area has over 100 golf courses.

San Diego, CA

930 miles flight @ 2:25 or drive 1090 miles from the 'Couv'

January average temps run 49 low and 65 high. January averages just shy of 2 inches of rain. San Diego has what could easily be considered the best all round weather in North America. Of course I like four seasons and San Diego has only one; pleasant. It sits at sea level.

San Diego is a big city with much to do. It is less crowded than LA but more so than Portland/Vancouver.

Phoenix, AZ 

1000 miles flight @ 2:35 or drive 1341 miles from the 'Couv'

January average temps run 46 low and 67 high. January averages just shy of an inch of rain. Phoenix is not technically high desert as it is situated just above 1000 feet. It can be a bit nippy overnight but temps will average in the upper 60s by day.

This is another great golf getaway but Phoenix is one of America's largest cities and if golf isn't your thing there are plenty of other opportunities for getaway relaxation.

There it is in a nutshell; five great getaways to consider when the cold, gloomy winter gets you down!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Big Washington Choice!

In my everyday dealings with clients I often come across a wise person looking to retire to our magnificent state. In fact I have such a person right now. The state of Washington is pretty big and we have an enormous diversity of climate, terrain, and landscape. The biggest issue can sometimes be, 'where in Washington shall I move'?

I have a coastal blog where I write about our wonderful beach towns and the immense value they bring to retirees. I will be showing homes on the Long Beach Peninsula tomorrow. Today however I travel to Goldendale to view some awesome big acreage properties. A couple with 20 acres in fact. Goldendale is quite a bit more dry than the locales on the west side of the Cascades. It makes for more sunshine but colder winter temps as well. Furthering the dilemma, Washington offers both east and west cascades mountain locations with rich forests and spectacular mountains.

This amazing diversity makes Washington State hard to beat for a very wide variety of retirees and climate and topographical desires. No my friends this isn't the southern sun belt so it will get chilly in the winter no matter what part of the Evergreen State you choose to reside.

Today I show this cool log cabin style home on 20 acres in Goldendale. It's small but hey 20 acres and $165k heck yeah!

Tomorrow I'll be out at the beach showing this $160k delight just minutes to the crashing Pacific.

From Vancouver each of these is in near opposite directions and both about 120 miles away. The beach will have moderate temps year round with little snow but tons of rain and clouds, while the Goldendale property will see loads of sunshine, hardly any rain, but some very cold winter temps and a fair bit of snowfall.

Pick your poison my friends because Washington has something for everyone and the lack of an income tax lets you keep MORE or your retirement cash!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Retiring with Land

There are some who want to retire to a little bit of a "spread." You know, some land, small acreage. You work, commute to a job and then reach a point where it's time to settle in for the golden years on a nice little plot somewhere. Southwest Washington State is an ideal place to do just that.

Although five acreage build able lots have crept up in value over the last 20 years they are still had for $150-$300k depending on location, level, views, perc, etc. Finding a home already built on a five acre parcel is not difficult at the $500k level. Although half a million dollars is steep when measured against the national median home price, it is not too heavy when contrasted against a West Coast typical suburban house in Portland, Seattle or most coastal California areas. A retiree can sell their three bed two bath ranch in the Seattle 'burbs for $450,000 to $650,000 and find a comparative palace on five acres in Battle Ground, WA

Small acreage that is level and grassy will require some maintenance but lots that are heavily treed or steep with a view are easier to maintain in general. The latter however is often less usable land. It all depends are what one is looking for. Use of a large space or privacy. Maybe a little of both.

Clark County, Washington offers a great variety of small acreage lots with or without homes and reasonable prices and most importantly, very close in to the city level services. Having a five acre spread and still making it o the airport in 30 minutes is wonderful. Having close in access to medical services and shopping is nice too.

Maybe you don't want five acres. Perhaps an acre is more your style. That's OK as these smaller parcels are around as well. The house shown here is listed at $589k and is a fabulous property with privacy and in real close to freeways and services.

What ever a retiree is looking for there is a great chance it can be found in southwest Washington.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Allergies? We aren't bad at all!

I suffer from spring allergies here in the metro Portland-Vancouver area and much to my surprise nearby Portland, OR was ranked last on a list of 100 worst cities for allergy sufferers in a 2013 report. Link here. Ranking last by the way, is a good thing, so this came as a bit of a surprise and in fact San Francisco CA was considered quite a bit WORSE than either Portland or Seattle the two Northwest cities west of the Cascades on the list.

We have so many flowering plants and trees I figured we would be up near the top. Yet there we are at the bottom of a list you don't want to top. It appears to be yet another reason to consider the Evergreen State as your final destination. Your place to retire. Seattle is a bit crowded, and VERY expensive leaving Vancouver as an ideal spot as the second largest city in the Portland,OR-Vancouver, WA metro area, and the defacto second largest city in the state.

With all the things we have to deal with as we get older, the aches and pains, the bum knee, sore back, yada, yada, yada... why suffer through allergies also? Well apparently here in the Evergreen State you get all the gloriously beautiful trees, bushes, flowers and leaves without that nasty allergic stuff. As if the natural grandeur of the Northwest, favorable tax environment, and relatively mild weather weren't enough, we are a bit easier on the eyes and nose as well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

New Tax Laws, Could Make the Evergreen State even Better

The new Federal Tax Laws offers a much larger standard deduction for all citizens. This is highly beneficial for retirees and empty-nesters that often have too few deductions to take advantage of itemizing. Now with the standard deduction nearly doubled retirees will keep more of their money and Washington's no income tax policy is that much better as the Feds eliminated a large portion of the state tax exemption. 

Washington again looks good against many of its Western State rivals. Our moderate climate on the Pacific side of the Cascades is a plus as well. Washington State also has a booming economy and that means local governments are flush with cash to keep roads, parks and other local services well funded.

Locally here in Clark County, Washington much is happening including the amazing Vancouver Waterfront project with the first five buildings rising up along the Columbia River. Thousands of housing units are coming online including senior housing both downtown and all over the area.

Vancouver and Southwest Washington are enjoying the fruits of the state and regional economic boom and a strong positive migration. This all points to good reasons to consider the area for retirement.

The local area has excellent health care facilities and a great deal of both indoor and outdoor activities to lead a healthy and active lifestyle well into the retirement years. Washington State is back as a top choice for retirees.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Retire to the Coast?

Originally posted 2/6/2018 on Evergreen Coastal Living, by Rod Sager

Many people that move to the Southwest Washington Coast are retired. It makes sense, really as retired people do not rely as much on the availability of high paying jobs as do those still in the working years. The coast is not exactly a hotbed of high tech nor is it filled with factory jobs. The only real stumbling block is that the coast is a fair distance away from the larger cities along the Oregon-Washington Interstate 5 corridor. The Long Beach Peninsula enjoys very reasonable housing costs and that can be a big bonus for fixed income retirees.

However there does come a time when we get older and need to visit our doctors a little more often. It is here that living on the quasi-remote coast can be an issue. There are plenty of physicians operating a practice on the Long Beach Peninsula and on the northern Oregon Coast, but hospitals and specialists may require an inland run to Longview which is 60 miles away.

This is probably the primary concern for retiring to the coast. If the medical services are adequate for your needs the rest is easy. Who doesn't want to enjoy the spectacular Pacific Ocean coastline? The weather at the coast is also more mild with wintertime temps a solid 8-10° warmer overnight and summertime highs an easy 10-15° cooler than most of the Portland Metro Area. Although the temps tend to be better moderated the rainfall is not. The coast can take a lickin' from frequent winter storms and that can mean a lot of rain and wind. Long Beach receives on average 79 inches a rain a year and that is double what Portland and Vancouver get on average. It's not that it rains more often, but more that it just rains harder.

But the coast is not that much different in terms of weather patterns and a nice long period of relatively dry conditions which arrive in July and stick around through the middle of September most years.

Yes friends, retiring to the beach isn't for everyone, but it could be just the ticket for you so check it out!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Washington Losing Favor Among Best Place to Retire?

I have noticed that Washington State has the appearance of falling out of 'favor' among the many magazines and blogs that write up all those best places to retire lists we are bludgeoned with on a routine basis.

So what happened? I'll tell you what happened, Seattle happened. Washington State has a population of roughly 7.5 million people. King County is one of 39 counties in Washington. It has 2.2 million residents. One county that has more than a quarter of the states residents. The metropolitan Seattle Area has over half the state's population. Housing in Seattle is now among the highest in the united state. In fact of California's 58 counties, only seven have a median home price higher than King County. The primary reason California has been nearly eliminated from those retire to list has been the combination of high housing costs and high taxes, the "deadly duo" if you will.

One might expect that Washington State has approached California overall in housing costs, yet that is simply not the case. According to Zillow's latest reports, the state wide median for Washington is $359,100 against $535,100 in California. Washington State is very high on real estate costs when compared to the nation as a whole, but falls well under California once you get out of Greater Seattle. Seattle suffers from the "deadly duo" as well with high taxes and high housing costs. But King County has a lot of heavy local taxes that are simply not applied elsewhere in the state.

Let's take sales tax for a moment. The sales tax rate in Seattle is 9.6%. Let's contrast that with the sales tax rate in White Salmon, WA in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge and it's only 7.5% That's a big difference! Wenatchee, WA recently landed on Forbes list of best retirement cities, it has a sales tax rate of 8.4% which is equal to our area here in Clark County Washington and well below the rate paid in Seattle. But unlike Seattle, Wenatchee has a very cool and reasonable median home price of just, $267,200.

When retiring to Washington State, one has to contrast where they live now against the costs in the place they choose to retire. People coming from say Iowa where the median home price is $132,600 will have sticker shock in any of Washington State's 39 counties. People coming from California and not moving to King County, will likely find the property values manageable in Washington.

Washington State has two distinct sides, the wet side and the dry side. On the dry side rainfall totals are in the arid range with cities like Goldendale, Yakima, the Tri-Cities area and Wenatchee seeing well under 20 inches of precipitation annually. These areas tend to be much more sunny and have warm bordering on hot summers and cold winters with significantly more snow than Western Washington cities. The wet side has very mild temperatures year round. Wenatchee is on the dry side so that may have played a role in Forbes ranking.

Locally here in Clark County Washington, the median home price sits just under the statewide average at $334,300. We have close proximity to Portland, OR that borders Clark County and Vancouver, WA. This is a solid choice for retirees as the housing costs are still manageable, services are excellent including health care, shopping, proximity to Oregon's no sales tax and devoid of any state income tax. Rainfall is moderate with Vancouver seeing on average 40 inches a year of rain. We do have extended cloudy periods as does most of the "wet side" of Washington. But we enjoy warm and dry summers that are to die for and lush greenery year round. The mountains are spectacular, the Columbia Gorge is right next door and the famous Oregon Coast is as accessible to us as it is to Portland.

Yes friends, Washington may not be the "best place to retire" list darlings like we were a couple years back, but that is more about metrics and magazine sales as it is about actual retirement living. Southwest Washington remains a great place to retire. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Cottages the new trend?

A cottage often conjures up visions of a tiny little house from the pre-war era on a tree lined street in a quaint town or even in a big city. In fact many retirees consider buying and older cottage type house as they are often located close to services and the smaller space is easier to maintain. Lower prices don't hurt either. But what if someone wants the cottage experience but not the downside to an 80 year old house. Often those older homes are functionally obsolete. Well it seems the market may be rising to the demand.

Recently a local builder here in Clark County, Washington starting a subdivision of "cottages." Quail Homes has a small community of "cottages" on small lots in Vancouver, WA. Now this is not their first go at this type of development, in fact they had a very successful similar development back in the 1990s. But these are aimed at the empty nest market. Active adult living. Although 'Quail Cottages' is not a senior living over 55 community, the homes are designed as low maintenance, small yard with a small but well designed living space.

The reason I find this as a refreshing approach is the demand for such housing is enormous. Most builders are trying to pack in as much square footage as they can and that is fine and well, but it leaves retirees on the downsize wagon in the cold, looking at 20 year-old resale properties. Let's face it for builders the 3000 square foot two story is much more profitable.

Now first off, these "cottages" are not as small as one might 'conjure' in that 'vision' I mentioned earlier. These homes are in fact roughly 1400-1500 square feet. These are homes that are a little more narrow so they fit on a 50 foot wide lot. You know like the lots of yesteryear. The yards are not as large as a home designed to support a family of four on a 60-80 foot wide lot. There is however a nice yard that one can have an pleasant outdoor experience with out a one hour weekly lawn mowing experience.

The advantage to this design for retirees is that a 20-30 year-old resale home will have more maintenance issues than a brand new home. For people looking to find their last house, a new home makes sense. There is no need to worry about the roof, furnace and other expensive replacement items as the home is new and those items are generally expected to deliver decades of use.

I don't want this blog post to sound like an ad for Quail Cottages, but this is a bit of a unique development and one that is much needed in our area. Their are several senior community builders like Trilogy homes that build sprawling adult living communities with a golf and country club atmosphere. That's all fine and well, but those homes are often expensive and routinely have a steep HOA fee.

Projects like the Quail Cottages in Vancouver offer much of the advantages of those more plush developments but with a price tag that is much more affordable. The cottages in this article are selling at start values in the upper $300's and the homes are very nicely equipped and trimmed with high grade finishes. I also am researching a project from Manor Homes that appears to be similar to the "cottages" so I'll update that in a later post sometime.

I am looking forward to seeing more new projects that cater to this increasingly large empty nest / retiree crowd here in no-income tax Washington State.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

2018 off to a good start

I wrote this on my real estate blog and it applies to retirees as well.

Originally published in Real estate News, by Rod Sager

OK I'll admit that title is anecdotal. But I am seeing a nice flow of listings and buyers poking around, finding homes, and making offers. Many analysts feel that 2018 will slow the crazy pace in the real estate market to a more healthy and normal 4-5% price appreciation over the course of the year. This is fine by me. I think the fact that the "threat" of higher rates is now the reality of higher rates, people that we dangling their feet over the fence are starting to jump in. I have made the point time and again that rates are far more important the price. Most people will pay far more in interest than any price deal they might negotiate. The federal tax revisions that take effect this tax year (2018) many middle income earners will no longer need to itemize and as such the mortgage deduction will no longer benefit them. A married couple paying less than $20,000 a year in mortgage interest may not have enough itemized deductions to exceed the new and improved standard deduction of $24,000 for a family. As I always state my standard disclosure anytime taxation is discussed: always consult a professional tax prepared or CPA when making decisions based on taxation. That out of the way, the new tax law increased the standard deduction for a married couple from $12,000 to a whopping $24,000. W2 wage earners are those who have a job and the boss cuts a paycheck, withholding money for taxes. W2 wage earners will receive a standard deduction of $24,000 for a married couples and $12,000 for single filers. This is nearly double from previous years! In general this is a good thing. But in order for it to matter you must have more than $24,000 in deductions for a couple or $12,000 for single. That may be a problem for some. Lets look at a hypothetical taxpayer for a moment, we shall call her Sally. Sally made $40,000 in 2017 and has a mortgage of $200,000 on her home. She paid $8,700 in interest last year. The standard deduction for 2017 was $6,350. Her mortgage interest exceeds that so filing the "long form" IRS 1040 with a schedule A for itemized deductions makes sense. Why take the standard $6,350 when you have $8,700 in mortgage interest alone. Now Sally can also write off other job related and business expenses. Here is where talking to the tax pro is CRITICAL. Sally needs to make sure that she doesn't take deductions that are not supported by the IRS. OK Sally is smart and she has a trusted tax pro handling her filing each year and he helped her find an additional $2,200 in legit tax deductions. No Sally can't write off those coffee break lattes ;) Now two 'problems' will arise for Sally this year. First the amount of interest paid on a mortgages drops each year as the balance is reduced. Let's say Sally will pay $8,500 in interest in 2018. She will likely have a similar amount of other deductions. So at the end of the year she has $10,700 in deductions which is now less than the new standard deduction of $12,000. The good news is, Sally will get a larger deduction and save the extra expenses of having to file the schedule A. Her tax guy is not happy, but Sally is. But now for many the extra bonus value of home ownership that was an effective tax break, has been eliminated for those with smaller mortgages. This could have a net effect of slowing down some of the pressure on entry level homes and first time home buyers. Of course the idea of home ownership should not revolve around tax deductions, but rather the idea of owning real property, gaining equity by reducing the balance on the loan and enjoying appreciation in price over time. These are really the hallmarks of home ownership. It's all about the equity asset and the lack of a landlord that can kick you out or raise your rent. Over all the new tax system will be a bonus, but it could lead to some minor softening mostly near the bottom of the market. Frankly the bottom needs a little price relief anyway. 2018 is looking good.