7 Front Porch Ideas That’ll Help You Make a Good First Impression


When was the last time you really thought about your front porch, and ideas to beautify the front of your house? You’ve probably spent a lot of time spiffing up the inside of your home or tending to your front lawn, but your front porch is another area of your home that deserves a decent amount of time and attention.

Many people get so preoccupied with decorating the interior of their home that they overlook this area, says Dawn T. Totty, a designer based in Chattanooga, TN. If you’ve let your porch fall by the wayside, you’re missing out.

“Designing a well-curated front porch not only adds value to your home, but it also creates another opportunity for [you] to increase your living space,” says Totty. “Think of it as your outdoor living room.”

Whether you have a modern concrete slab or a grand wraparound porch with a view, there’s sure to be a design tip below to help you make the most of this all-important (and often neglected) space.

1. Bring art outside

Farmhouse porch design
Farmhouse porch designMiyuki Yamaguchi Design Studio

Provided that you place it in a dry, weather-proofed part of your porch, “artwork, or even a mirror placed on an inside wall, can create interest and give the look of an indoor living space,” Totty says. It’s like getting the best of both worlds!

2. Set a table (or two)

Craftsman porch design
Craftsman porch designHistorical Concepts

Although many porches have minimal square footage, “Cocktail and side tables make the space functional and cozy,” says Totty.

A bistro table with two to four chairs should be more than adequate for an al fresco dinner or after-dinner cocktail with friends. And while the chairs and table don’t need to match, “They should complement each other,” she adds.

3. Front porch fire pit

Modern deck design
Modern deck designJeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

“Table fire features are a great way to create an elegant atmosphere,” says Totty. Even a small fire pit “brings a wow factor to any porch decor,” she says.

Buy one off the shelf or gather ingredients like lava rocks, a rectangular planter, and gel fuel, and craft your own DIY version.

4. Lose the boring porch lights

Beach Style entry design
Beach Style entry designJS Interiors LLC

When you’re revamping your porch space, lighting is key. “Flush-mount lighting is not the only option,” Totty says.

Try modern semiflush-mount lighting or a chic pendant light instead. Either option will illuminate the threshold of your home and give your visitors something to talk about when they walk through the door.

5. Anchor the space with furniture

Beach Style porch design
Beach Style porch designEvens Architects

If space is plentiful, choose a sturdy, solid set of furniture that can withstand the onslaught of weather from all four seasons, says Totty.

Opt for a sofa, love seat, or armchair (or some combination of the two) upholstered in outdoor fabric. Then, place a throw blanket on the arms of the furniture before guests stop by, to make the space feel even more cozy.

The goal, Totty says, is to create “a living room aesthetic for year-round use.”

6. Throw paint on the ceiling

Traditional porch design
Traditional porch designMax Crosby Construction

Who says your porch ceiling has to be a shade of blah? Paint it a striking color like sky blue to “increase the depth of the space and ensure the architecture remains the focal point,” says Dee Schlotter, senior color marketing manager at the paint company PPG.

If blue isn’t really your style, Schlotter suggests picking a color that will harmonize with your surrounding landscape.

7. Beam it up

Craftsman exterior design
Craftsman exterior designTongue & Groove Design+Build By Mark Batson

Wooden beams are the architectural addition you didn’t know you needed. If you have a sloped, wide opening above your porch, consider adding in a few beams for a rustic, Craftsman-style vibe.

If you live in a rainy or snowy climate and are worried about water damage, you can still join in on the fun. Just check out faux wooden beams.

“Unlike real wood products, faux beams stand up to extreme outdoor conditions and don’t attract wood-boring pests. They don’t split, crack, or chip like real wood, and are much lighter and cheaper than buying old barn wood,” says David Ellwanger, owner of AZ Faux Beams. Faux wood might also be a good choice if termites are a problem in your area.

Selling Your Home 101

When it comes to selling your home, it is always a good idea to have a home inspection first before you put your home on the market.  Here’s why:C-1 Photo

  • When was the last time you went into your attic? Poor ventilation in your attic can lead to mold issues.
  • What about your crawlspace? Dry-rot can lead to big issues if not replaced.
  • Check to make sure your hot water heater has the required earthquake straps.
  • Curb appeal is a MUST to get potential buyers interested in your home. Investing in curb appeal is one of the most important things you can start with. Make your house stand out from all the rest!
  • Cleaning your gutters is one of the items an appraiser will call for to have done.
  • Has your roof been cleaned recently? There should not be any moss growing there.

“It is always a good idea to have your furnace cleaned and serviced,” noted Leslie Swindahl of Hawkins Poe of University Place /Tacoma.

If you find any of these issues, you will want to get them fixed as soon as possible. Once you have addressed health and safety issues, it’s time for a Hawkins Poe REALTOR® (Leslie Swindahl) to come and look at your home inside and out. Our REALTORS® will always put our skill, experience, on your side.

When it comes to selling your home for the first time, this is when a Hawkins Poe REALTOR® is your best choice to help you through the process. When you work with Hawkins Poe, you can expect friendly, professional service that includes in-depth knowledge of the area and the current market conditions, outstanding communication skills along with the ability to aggressively market, manage and negotiate for you!

Leslie Photo 2017Leslie Swindahl, REALTOR®
253-312-0447 (cell)

Hawkins Poe 

Leslie sells houses

How to Prune Trees: Read This Now, Before You Ruin Your Yard and Your Life


Any homeowner with a yard will want to learn how to prune trees. After all, foliage is a valuable feature on a property, even more so if it’s well maintained. Plus, pruning isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, but important to a tree’s health. And maybe yours, too!

“Pruning allows air to freely circulate through the tree, which helps prevent disease and promote better flowering,” says Jeff McManus, the director of landscape services at the University of Mississippi and author of “Growing Weeders Into Leaders.” Another bonus: Better air circulation keeps the tree from falling over (and onto your house!) in high winds.

While you could hire a landscaper, any homeowner can learn how to prune trees. Here are the steps, tools, and timing info to do it right.

When to prune trees

“The best time to prune trees is generally in the late winter or early spring,” says McManus“The reason for this is that it’s easier to see the limbs while they’re bare, pruning cuts will heal faster, and it’s right before the tree starts to grow anew in the warmer weather.”

How to prune trees: Tools you’ll need

Step 1: Remove the dead weight

Step 1 is pretty simple: If it looks sick, remove it. You don’t want to leave anything on the tree that will impede new growth. If a limb is diseased, it could infect other healthy branches, so get it off. Same with any dead leaves, fruit, flowers, or limbs. Plus, “limbs that touch your home or roofline should always be removed,” says McManus.

Step 2: Work from the inside out

Once all the dead stuff is off, “move to the inside of the tree and remove twiggy horizontal growth that crosses the center,” says McManus. “I also like to remove any crossing or rubbing branches and water sprouts, which are branches growing straight up in the center.”

Once you’ve worked your way to the outside branches, trim any limbs that are growing out of bounds. A well-manicured tree generally looks symmetrical, so if something is sticking out or one side looks bushier than the other, try to get the tree in balance. Also check the tree from several angles.

Prune those water sprouts in the center of the tree.
Prune those water sprouts in the center of the tree.Growing Weeders Into Leaders/Allie Bush

Step 3: Look for the wrinkles

When removing an entire limb, you want to prune close to the trunk and above the wrinkles. “Look for the rings of wrinkled bark where the limb meets the trunk and cut just outside the wrinkled ring,” says McManus. “This helps the wound heal naturally.”

When pruning a limb to the trunk, cut above the wrinkles.
When pruning a limb to the trunk, cut above the wrinkles.trainingyoungtrees/YouTube.com

If you don’t need to remove an entire limb, look instead for an outwardly growing side shoot or side bud (this doesn’t mean a flower bud, but rather a bulging spot on the limb where the tree will launch new growth). Cut at a slight angle (about 45 degrees) just above the shoot or bud.

Step 4: Use a three-cut method for larger limbs

For limbs larger than 1.5 inches in diameter, you should use the three-cut method to remove the limb in order to keep from damaging the tree. If the bark tears or is pulled off the tree as the limb drops to the ground, it’s tough for the tree to heal quickly, and may even lead to future damage of the trunk. The three-cut method helps prevent that from happening.

  1. Using your pruning saw, make a cut along the bottom of the branch, about 4 inches away from the trunk of the tree. Cut about one-third of the way in. This cut is a preventive one that keeps the bark on the limb from pulling away, down the trunk of the tree, as it’s being removed.
  2. Once the first cut is done, move about 2 inches outward from the first cut. This is where you’ll make a second cut—this time on the top of the limb, removing the limb by cutting straight down, parallel to the first cut.
  3. After most of the limb is removed, you can cut closer to the rings of wrinkled bark where the limb once met the trunk. Cutting off this last stub will help this wound heal naturally.

Step 5: Before you cut, always ask why

“Never remove more than 25% of the tree when pruning,” instructs McManus. “And keep in mind, most newly planted flowering trees need very little, if any, pruning.”

A good rule of thumb to stave off over-pruning: Question your cuts before you make them. “I teach others to ask, ‘I am cutting this limb because…’ since this will help you examine your cuts and keep you from removing too much,” says McManus.

Leslie Sells Houses


Swing into Spring

Six Great Walks Around Tacoma

Titlow Beach

Tacoma is full of beauty. Whether you wander the waterfront or find yourself following a fern-lined trail in a forest, the walking routes around our city and neighborhoods are sure to bring you a deeper appreciation for our corner of the Puget Sound.

oly orthoWhile there are hundreds of places to walk that are absolutely perfect, we decided to put together a list of six of our favorite trails and walks in Tacoma.

Ruston Way

We start with this classic and well-known stretch of sidewalk that runs between Ruston Way and Commencement Bay. Full of restaurants and viewpoints, places to rent bikes and spots to sit and watch the seals, this iconic path is perfect in so many ways – as a fun sunny day wandering destination or a great place to stretch the legs after sitting in the office all day. The entire length of Ruston is seven miles in length round trip. For the best views, go down here on a clear day around sunset and look toward Mount Rainier.

Snake Lake
The trails at Snake Lake are well-maintained and easily accessible as the park is right in the center of Tacoma. Photo credit: Kristin Kendle

Snake Lake

The trails at Snake Lake weave through 71 acres of preserved forests and waterways, helping make it a fantastic family destination or post-work walking area. Open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 30 minutes after sunset, Snake Lake’s two miles of trails have two small foot bridges to cross, a good loop around the lake and an upper trail that will get you some elevation. With each step along the shady and cool trail, watch for birds sitting in the trees or swimming on the water. When crossing bridges, watch for turtles and even salamanders in the water as you make your way around this small, but ideal trail system.

Narrows Bridge Walkway
Crossing the Narrows Bridge on foot is an amazing way to see the beauty of the region. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

Tacoma Narrows Bridge

We have all probably driven over the Narrows Bridge once or twice, but have you walked it yet? Part of the larger Scott Pierson Trail, this five-mile trail crosses the Puget Sound, giving stunning views of the Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier and the waters below. The trail is paved, easy to follow and is both dog and family-friendly, making it a perfect destination for everyone. If you are lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of orca or humpback whales as they swim in the waters below, but you’ll most certainly catch sight of seals far below if you look carefully.

Titlow Beach
Full of sweeping views and stellar trails, Titlow Beach is a family-friendly walking destination that is fun all year. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

Titlow Park

While many visitors stick to the short boardwalk and shores of Titlow Park, the trails here are much more expansive. Within eyesight of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Titlow’s two miles of trails wander through forests and along the rocky shores of Puget Sound. Open from just before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset, walking Titlow allows you to choose your own adventure – walk along the beach, through the trail system in the forest or simply stroll around the pond or on the boardwalk. Titlow is also a great place to see birds, starfish (when the tide is out) and maybe even a whale! The sunsets here are pretty amazing, too.

Swan Creek Hiking Trails
Hike the Swan Creek Trail if you enjoy elevation gain and a bit of a workout, as well as beautiful forest scenery. Photo credit: Kristin Kendle.

Swan Creek

Swan Creek isn’t too well known, but it should be. Located in East Tacoma, between Portland Avenue and River Road, Swan Creek Park is another fantastic trail system for those hoping to walk in the woods. Combining elevation with access to a salmon-bearing stream and both level and pleasantly challenging trails, you have two fantastic options for mileage and relative solitude in the forests in this often overlooked park. Your best walking route will be to start at E. 56th Street and get on the Swan Creek Trail, which runs for nearly two and a half miles before heading back on the mile-long Canyon Rim Trail. You can also park at the park’s main entrance on Pioneer Road, where you’ll enjoy more level trails to start.

Chambers Bay
Known for stunning views and three miles of walking paths, Chambers Bay is a great walking destination. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

Chambers Bay

Finally, we end with yet another classic walking destination for residents of the region. While not technically in Tacoma, the short drive to University Place makes this an incredibly convenient and gorgeous place to get some steps in. Home to amazing sunsets, incredible views and over three miles of trails and pavement to walk, exploring Chambers Bay by footis a great workout with amazing rewards. With the expanse of the Olympic mountains visible in the distance, the paths around Chambers get you up on bluffs, on bridges and next to the seal filled waters. There are few places as beautiful and as open as Chambers Bay, giving you unrivaled views to the west and allowing you to forget about the stresses of life.

Leslie Sells Houses

Titlow Beach

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Tax Breaks for First Time Home Buyers

What exactly is tax deductible when buying a house for the first time?

Image result for Pictures of buyers walking into their home


Buying a home can sound like an intimidating undertaking if you’ve never done it before. The thought of relocating and the sheer level of financial investment gives many people anxiety. Luckily, the government wants to make the process easier and less scary, with a range of tax breaks for first time home buyers.

To get the most out of your purchase, don’t settle for the standard deductions and write-offs. Instead, make sure you take advantage of the many tax breaks available to you. So, what exactly is tax deductible when buying a house for the first time?

Mortgage Interest Deductions

Mortgage interest is the second half of your monthly mortgage payment—the rest goes toward the principal balance. Though interest rates are hovering near historic lows, they can still be a financial burden unless you take advantage of the option to deduct mortgage interest on up to $1 million of debt.

Claiming this tax break is easy. Each year, your lender will send you Form 1098 listing the interest you paid during the previous year. Simply enter this number on Form 1040 Schedule A—under itemized deductions—and claim your tax break.

Mortgage Points Deduction

Beyond the typical interest deduction, you’re eligible for a tax break based on mortgage points—prepaid interest that represents 1 percent of your total mortgage. You are allowed to deduct Discount Points, or the fees paid directly to the lender in exchange for a reduced interest rate. This is also called “buying down the rate.”

Mortgage Credit Certificate Program

A tax credit for buying a house is more valuable than a deduction because it cuts back on your taxes owed, dollar-for-dollar. For low-income home buyers, the Mortgage Credit Certificate program gives back 20% to 30% of the interest you pay every year as money back in your pocket.

You will need to qualify for the Mortgage Credit Certificate program before purchasing your home to claim this credit.

Real Estate Taxes

Each year, you can deduct your local property taxes on Form 1040 Schedule A. To find the amount you can deduct, check Form 1098 if you pay through an escrow account or check your records if you pay directly to the municipality.

Additionally, for the first year in your home, you should earn an even bigger tax reduction. If you reimbursed the seller for their prepaid real estate taxes, you can take those as itemized deductions as well.

IRA Payouts

If increased investment opportunity is one of the reasons for buying a home, then you’ll appreciate this benefit for your IRA. If you pull from your IRA to cover your down payment and other purchasing costs, first time home buyers do not have to pay the $10 penalty fee for early withdrawals.

Additional First Time Home Buyer Advantages

  • Home Improvements: If you purchase a fixer-upper, all improvements you make to your home from landscaping to new doors and windows can be deducted when you sell your home.
  • Energy Efficiency: Upgrading your home with energy-efficient appliances and home improvements—such as an insulation system—can offer an energy tax credit of up to $500.
  • Home Sale Profit: If you own and live in your home for at least two years before selling, much of the profit you make is tax-free. Up to $250,000 for single returns and up to $500,000 for married, joint returns.
  • Mortgage Insurance Premiums: This tax deduction ended in 2016 but is currently under legislative review for renewal. It offers a write-off for the premium paid if your down payment was less than 20% of the home’s cost.

The First-Time Homebuyer Credit is no longer available. It ended in 2010 and has not been renewed.

Now that you know the many tax breaks for first time home buyers, visit your local real estate agent at Coldwell Banker to learn how to take advantage of all the perks of being a first time home buyer.

The Lazy Guide to Spring Cleaning at Home

No one likes spring cleaning (except maybe Danny Tanner) but here are some easy ways to get the job done quickly,

Guest post by Andrea Davis

After a long winter, nothing feels better than having a clean and sparkling home. But, actually jumping into a deep clean is another story. Here are some simple tips to whip your home into shape without breaking a sweat:

#1 Wall Cleaning

Magic Eraser is your best bet for tackling walls — it can spot clean anything from splatters to crayon marks. It’s tough enough to reach the cobwebs that collect in the corners of your walls and ceiling. You can also cover the bristles of a broom with a cloth or old T-shirt and use it to knock down any dusty spots.

#2 Carpets and Rugs

Take a little more time vacuuming the high-traffic areas of your house. (Make sure you don’t forget to spot treat any stubborn stains with a stain-removal product.) If your rug or carpet has lingering odors, sprinkle some baking soda over it and let it sit for a few hours. Vacuum up the baking soda and you’ll find the odors have disappeared.

#3 Mattress Ideas

Give your mattress cover a thorough cleaning in the washing machine — don’t forget to throw in a cup of white vinegar to boost the cleaning process. Sprinkle baking soda on your mattress while you’re washing the cover. You can vacuum it up later when you’re making the bed.

#4 Shower Care

Don’t knock yourself out trying to clean glass shower doors. Add a couple drops of water to your dryer sheets and use them to wipe down your shower doors. You can even let your showerhead clean itself overnight while you sleep. Simply tie a bag filled with white vinegar around your showerhead and let it soak overnight. Remove the bag in the morning for a non-clogged shower experience.

#5 Toilet Scrubbing

Have water stains built up in your toilet? Cola can help you attack these stains with little effort.  Just pour some in the toilet, let it sit for several minutes, then flush.

#6 Oven Shine

If you have an oven with a self-cleaning feature, spring is a great time to finally run that cycle. Otherwise, mix baking soda with a bit of water and use it to quickly clean up grease and various other spills inside the oven.

#7 Clutter Solutions

When you don’t have time to clean but you need your house to look presentable, tackling clutter is the quickest way to create the illusion of a clean house. Zip through each room of the house and put anything that doesn’t belong into a basket. This strategy requires very little work and can make a big difference in your home’s appearance.


Although these tips won’t completely eliminate the effort involved in spring cleaning, they’ll make the job a whole lot easier. Spring is a time of new beginnings — if you use even a couple of these ideas, your home will enjoy a clean and fresh start to the upcoming season.

Leslie Sells Houses

Simple Landscaping Upgrades to Attract Prospective Buyers

Image result for pictures of landscaping with craftsman house with daffodils

Here are a few simple upgrades to help boost your curb appeal.

Guest post by James Witts

A home can be modern and cozy inside, but without curb appeal, potential buyers will lose interest before they step inside. An attractive, well-kept lawn is one of the first things people will notice. The good news is that upgrading an existing lawn doesn’t have to take months, and it doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Here are a few simple upgrades to help boost your curb appeal.

Remove Weeds 

  Image result for Pictures of weeds

If weeds have gained the upper hand, pulling is still the tried and true method for getting rid of weeds in a hurry. If the act of pulling the weeds won’t do the trick, you’ll need to attack them with an herbicide. Always use chemicals strategically and make sure to use the correct amount–different weeds require different treatment.



Image result for pictures of wheelbarrows with twigs

Take a stroll around your lawn and pick up anything that doesn’t belong. Take a wheelbarrow if you have a lot of branches, twigs or other debris. Pick up children’s toys and gardening tools. Put hoses away, or invest in an attractive roller.


 Image result for pictures of seeds growing

Rake over brown spots to remove dead grass, then spread grass seed. For a more enhanced effect, aerate the soil before overseeding to help break up the soil and allow nutrients to get to the root of the grass more efficiently.


Image result for picture of mowing the lawn

Taller grass stays green longer than short grass. Set your mower relatively high and take a little off the top every three to five days. Be sure the blade is sharp. A dull blade tears the grass and leaves ragged, brown edges.


Image result for pictures of fertilizer application

Nitrogen-rich fertilizer will green up your lawn quickly, make sure to use the right amount according to your soil and grass type. A little nitrogen is a good thing, but too much may damage your lawn. Limit this trick to once or twice a year. Be sure and water well immediately after applying any type of fertilizer.

Iron is also helpful in turning a drab grass into a lush and healthy green lawn. Mineral supplements can be inexpensive and can be found at your local garden center or nursery.

Freshen up

Image result for pictures of mulch types

Refresh any flower beds around your lawn by laying down a new think layer of mulch. The deep tones of fresh mulch will help compliment the more potent hues within the rest of the landscaping, making everything else pop. Fresh mulch is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t take too much time to apply yourself.

You can also consider investing in an inexpensive edger to smooth out and even out the edges of your lawn. This is a quick and easy way to make your landscaping look trim and neat.

Add color

Image result for pictures of adding color to your gardens

Flower beds and container gardens are a great way to add a pop of color into your landscaping. Plant a few cheerful annuals such as geraniums, petunias or marigolds. Clean up an exterior furniture or give it a fresh coat of paint. Don’t be afraid to use bright, bold colors.


James Witts is an eco-conscious home improvement writer. He is constantly trying to find new ways to live off the grid while living in a tiny home with his wife, Andie. 

A New Housing Bubble Forming…Not Before 2024

A recent report by CoreLogic revealed that U.S. home values appreciated by more than 37% over the last five years. Some are concerned that this is evidence we may be on the verge of another housing “boom & bust” like the one we experienced from 2006-2008.

Recently, several housing experts weighed in on the subject to alleviate these fears.

Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac Chief Economist

 “The evidence indicates there currently is no house price bubble in the U.S., despite the rapid increase of house prices over the last five years.”

Edward Golding, a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center

 “There is not likely to be a national bubble in the way that we saw the first decade of the century.”

Christopher Thornberg, Partner at Beacon Economics

 “There is no direct or indirect sign of any kind of bubble.”

Bill McBride, Calculated Risk

 “I wouldn’t call house prices a bubble.”

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices

 “Housing is not repeating the bubble period of 2000-2006.”

A recent article by Teo Nicolais, a real estate entrepreneur who teaches courses on real estate principles, markets, and finance at Harvard Extension School concluded that the next housing bubble may not occur until 2024.

The articleHow to Use Real Estate Trends to Predict the Next Housing Bubble, looks at previous peaks in real estate values going all the way back to 1818. Nicolais uses the research of several economists. The article details the four phases of a real estate cycle and what defines each phase.

Nicolais concluded his article by saying:

“Those who study the financial crisis of 2008 will (we hope) always be weary of the next major crash. If George, Harrison, and Foldvary are right, however, that won’t happen until after the next peak around 2024. 

Between now and then, aside from the occasional slow down and inevitable market hiccups, the real estate industry is likely to enjoy a long period of expansion.”

Bottom Line

The reason for the price appreciation we are seeing is an imbalance between supply and demand for housing. This has created a natural increase in values, not a bubble in prices.

Leslie Sells Houses

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SELL 5 Sweet Tax Deductions When Selling a Home: Did You Take Them All?


Are there tax deductions when selling a home? You bet—and they can amount to sizable savings when you file with the IRS. So whether you’re selling your home soon or sold it last year, you’ll want to know all the tax deductions (not to mention tax exemptions or other write-offs) at your disposal.

Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know, plus a preview of what’s in store once the new tax code takes effect next year.


1. Selling costs

“You can deduct any costs associated with selling the home—including legal fees, escrow fees, advertising costs, and real estate agent commissions,” says Joshua Zimmelman, president of Westwood Tax and Consulting in Rockville Center, NY.

This could also include home staging fees, according to Thomas J. Williams, a tax accountant who operates Your Small Biz Accountant in Kissimmee, FL.

2018 tax changes: These deductions are still allowed under the new tax law.

2. Home improvements and repairs

Did you renovate a few rooms to make your home more marketable? Super—they probably helped you fetch a higher sales price, and now you can deduct those upgrade costs as well. This includes painting the house, repairing the roof or water heater, or anything that remains useful past a year.

But there’s a catch, and it all boils down to timing.

“If you needed to make home improvements in order to sell your home, you can deduct those expenses as selling costs as long as they were made within 90 days of the closing,” says Zimmelman.

2018 tax changes: None.

3. Property taxes

If you were dutifully paying your property taxes up to the point when you sold your home, you can deduct the amount you paid in property taxes for the time you owned it.

2018 tax changes: This deduction is still allowed, but your total deductions are capped at $10,000, Zimmelman says. You may be able to avoid this cap if you prepaid your 2018 taxes and if your property was assessed  in 2017, but estimated assessments won’t qualify.

4. Mortgage interest

As with property taxes, you can deduct the interest on your mortgage (up to a maximum of $1 million) for the portion of the year you owned your home.

2018 tax changes: New homeowners (and sellers) can deduct the interest on up to only $750,000 of mortgage debt, though homeowners who got their mortgage before Dec. 15, 2017, can continue deducting up to the original $1 million amount, according to Zimmelman.

5. Moving expenses

If you sold your home in 2017 in order to move for a job change, you can deduct those expenses.

2018 tax changes: Lawmakers eliminated this deduction for most of us. However, members of the armed forces on active duty can still take the deduction.

But what’s up with capital gains tax for sellers?

This one isn’t technically a deduction (it’s an exclusion), but you’re still going to like it. As a reminder, capital gains are your profits from selling your home—whatever cash is left after paying off your expenses, plus any outstanding mortgage debt. And yes, these profits are taxed as income. But here’s the good news: You can exclude up to $250,000 of the capital gains from the sale if you’re single, and $500,000 if married. The only big catch is you must have lived in your home at least two of the past five years.

2018 tax changes: None. Lawmakers tried to change this rule, but it managed to survive—so it’s still one home sellers can cherish. However, look for this to possibly change in a future tax bill.

Ralph DiBugnara, president of Home Qualified and vice president at Residential Home Funding, says lawmakers would like to change this so that homeowners would have to live in the property for five of the past eight years, instead of two out of five.

Leslie Sells Houses

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