Buyer's letter image via Shutterstock. Why buyer letters are risky business

Why buyer letters are risky business

As an exclusive buyer agent, homebuyers ask me all the time about buyer letters. You know the letters I mean: the ones where the buyers write about how much they love the house and why they or their family or their kids will love living there and why...
By ActiveRain | Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Buyer's letter image via Shutterstock. Why buyer letters are risky business

Why buyer letters are risky business

As an exclusive buyer agent, homebuyers ask me all the time about buyer letters. You know the letters I mean: the ones where the buyers write about how much they love the house and why they or their family or their kids will love living there and why...
By ActiveRain | Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Zombie real estate agent image via Shutterstock. Would you rather face RESPA-TILA disclosure rule, or zombie apocalypse?

Would you rather face RESPA-TILA disclosure rule, or zombie apocalypse?

The 1,888-page RESPA-TILA Integrated Mortgage Disclosures Rule issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and taking effect next year “isn’t a brain-eating zombie,” but “it certainly feels like a monster.” So say...
By Inman | Thursday, October 9, 2014
New hires image via Shutterstock. Why your next agent should be a 'lifelong learner'

Why your next agent should be a 'lifelong learner'

In a recent tweet storm, Brad Inman took to Twitter to vent about licensing requirements, incompetent agents, and what it will take to fix the problem. While he recommended implementing more stringent licensing requirements, penalties and watchdogs, ...
By Bernice Ross | Monday, October 6, 2014
Gavel image via Shutterstock. Title insurer agrees to pay $200,000 to settle kickback allegations

Title insurer agrees to pay $200,000 to settle kickback allegations

A title insurance agency has agreed to pay $200,000 to settle allegations that it violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) by entering into marketing services agreements with companies, including real estate brokers, with the unders...
By Inman | Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Gavel image via Shutterstock. Legal spat over sale of mansion could greatly expand definition of 'dual agency' in California

Legal spat over sale of mansion could greatly expand definition of 'dual agency' in California

A dispute over the sale of a $12.25 million mansion that allegedly turned out to be smaller than advertised could end up greatly expanding the definition of what constitutes “dual agency” in California, and make brokerages more skittish a...
By Inman | Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Disclosures image via Shutterstock. Brokerage pays $500K to settle allegations buyers were steered to affiliated title company

Brokerage pays $500K to settle allegations buyers were steered to affiliated title company

Alabama’s biggest real estate brokerage, RealtySouth, has agreed to pay a $500,000 civil penalty to settle allegations that it “strongly encouraged” and in some cases required agents to use its affiliated title insurance and closing...
By Inman | Friday, May 30, 2014
Taxing situation image via Shutterstock. Real estate always has tax ramifications

Real estate always has tax ramifications

The tax aspects of real estate ownership are something every buyer should understand. Real estate professionals need to understand them as well. Unfortunately, real estate taxation is complex, and not getting any simpler ......
By Stephen Fishman | Monday, May 5, 2014
Odometer image via Shutterstock. How not to turn your business mileage deduction into a negligence penalty

How not to turn your business mileage deduction into a negligence penalty

Jim Chapin, a California real estate broker, used his Toyota Sequoia SUV for his real estate business during 2009. He figured that he drove a total of 11,135 miles for business that year and deducted $5,309 for car and truck ......
By Stephen Fishman | Monday, April 21, 2014
Tax time image via Shutterstock. Follow the rules, and the IRS will let quite a bit slide past April 15

Follow the rules, and the IRS will let quite a bit slide past April 15

As you probably know, your income taxes are due on April 15. However, this is not really the final date to file your 2013 return. You can get a six-month extension to file, meaning that your return won’t be due ......
By Stephen Fishman | Monday, April 14, 2014
Money image via Shutterstock. Court ruling could save real estate trusts millions in taxes

Court ruling could save real estate trusts millions in taxes

As we’ve discussed many times in this column, anyone who can qualify as a “real estate professional” for federal tax purposes enjoys some unique tax benefits. First, a real estate professional who owns rental property is allowed to deduct an ....
By Stephen Fishman | Monday, April 7, 2014
Concept of bitcoin image via Shutterstock. IRS' bitcoin guidance could create headaches at tax time

IRS' bitcoin guidance could create headaches at tax time

The IRS has issued its first official guidance on how bitcoin and other digital currencies that are convertible into dollars or other real currencies on exchanges should be treated for tax purposes. The upshot is that, no matter what bitcoin’s ......
By Stephen Fishman | Monday, March 31, 2014
Wedding cake image via Shutterstock. Married landlords should think twice before filing separate tax returns

Married landlords should think twice before filing separate tax returns

The vast majority of the time, it’s best for married people to file a joint return. However, there are situations where they can save on taxes by filing separately. For example, a married couple may save tax by filing separately ......
By Stephen Fishman | Monday, March 24, 2014
March 31 image via Shutterstock. 'Obamacare' open enrollment deadline will not be delayed

'Obamacare' open enrollment deadline will not be delayed

The clock is ticking on the individual health insurance open enrollment period for 2014, which is scheduled to end on March 31, 2014. Unlike many of the other deadlines established under “Obamacare,” this one will not be extended or delay...
By Stephen Fishman | Monday, March 17, 2014
Windfall image via Shutterstock. 3 valuable tax deductions that real estate pros often overlook

3 valuable tax deductions that real estate pros often overlook

Tax deductions are worth a lot. Exactly how much depends, of course, on your top tax bracket. If, for example, you’re in the 28 percent federal income tax bracket, every $100 in deductions will save you $28 in federal income ......
By Stephen Fishman | Monday, March 10, 2014
Home sweet home image via Shutterstock. The American dream is not a tax deduction

The American dream is not a tax deduction

As of this week, I have been a homeowner for 25 years — and in the same home, too. In the early years, we paid a lot of interest on our home loan. Rates were up around 9 percent, and ......
By Teresa Boardman | Thursday, March 6, 2014
Uncertainty image via Shutterstock. Tax overhaul plan has something for everyone to hate

Tax overhaul plan has something for everyone to hate

One of the two principal figures in charge of rewriting the nation’s income tax laws is Republican Dave Camp of Michigan, chairman of the all-powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Last week he released an extremely comprehensive tax code overhau...
By Stephen Fishman | Monday, March 3, 2014
U.S. Capitol image via Shutterstock. Proposed tax reform bill that would cut homeowner benefits looks DOA

Proposed tax reform bill that would cut homeowner benefits looks DOA

A long-awaited proposal to simplify and overhaul the tax code appears to be dead on arrival, with Republican leaders showing little enthusiasm for a draft proposal put forward today by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich. Among ...
By Inman | Wednesday, February 26, 2014