Amid these times of penny pinching, luxury items such as vacation homes are becoming financial burdens for many homeowners. With additional strains on the household budget, those extra expenses associated with owning a second residence can be overwhelming. It's a shame to be forced to sell (if you can), while the market is down, and perhaps a more creative solution will buy you the extra time to wait out this economic storm.
Here are some ideas to get you thinking and maybe turn that investment into some additional income.
Rent It Out
The quickest way to subsidize your mortgage payment and monthly expenses is by renting out your vacation home. By taking advantage of the popularity of the internet, you can market your place effectively, for very little cost. Free sites such as kijiji.com or craigslist.com allow plenty of space for descriptions and images. For a nominal fee, some of the vacation websites such as VRBO.com or a1vacations.com provide website templates complete with online calendars for tracking your bookings and the ability to accept credit card payments.
If you don't want the hassle of managing the flow of renters and subsequent maintenance of your home, a management company can be secured for an extra fee. Depending on the company they take 10 - 25% of the rental fee and look after cleaning the unit, maintenance, and checking in and out of guests.
Although the income must be reported, the owner is eligible to write off a wealth of expenses including maintenance and repairs. Any income from a residence rented less than 14 days a year, does not have to be reported. Those living in an area with a popular annual event such as the Kentucky Derby or Sundance Film Festival, Utah, can cash in, tax free, on a premium rental charge. Sometimes that extra few thousand dollars is all you need to get over the hump.
Donate Holiday Time
When it's all you can do to pay your mortgage, how can you possibly afford to donate time in your holiday home? Think beyond the initial rent payment, to tax time when you are declaring rental income on your tax return. By donating a few days rental to a charity to be offered as an auction item, you can receive a tax break for the fair market rental value.
Websites such as vacationhomesforcharity.org, act as the liason between charities looking for donations and vacation homeowners looking to donate.
In the case of a retiree deciding to move permanently into their vacation home, expenses can be higher than anticipated. Those who do not wish to pass on their estate to family, can donate their home with the condition that they remain their until their death. The tax deduction from the donation, can translate into a considerable cash amount to help maintain the home.
Question Your Property Taxes
With today's declining market, property tax assessments are not always based on current market value. In fact, some are still being based on assessments made during the market peak, a few years ago. Some people hire lawyers to make their case, but most homeowners can simply fill in the tax appeal forms on their local municipality website and appeal the rates.
You should have some sort of back-up to support your argument. For instance, selling prices of similar homes in your neighborhood, or the results from a private property appraiser. The reduction in your taxes could be well worth the money spent to hire this type of professional.
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