Articles

New electronic tools coming into use

The exploration of digital tools is expanding in ways that that are likely to continue well beyond the current world of social-distancing. The situation is creating change for types of transactions that have traditionally been focused on many in-person meetings and rounds of paperwork and walk-throughs. Sellers, real estate agents and landlords are using a Zillow feature that allows them to create virtual 3D home tours using a panorama of the home taken on a smartphone.

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Bill pending in Congress would allow remote online notarizations

A bill pending in Congress would approve the use of remote online notarizations, making it easier to close on houses even if you cannot meet in person. The measure, called the “Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020,” would allow every notary across the country to perform remote online notarizations. The bill was introduced by Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND). At the current time, nearly half of the

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Fix in stimulus law gives tax benefits to real estate owners

Commercial real estate owners can now get big tax benefits, thanks to a fix of a glitch from 2017 contained in the economic stimulus measure passed in late March. A provision in the new law fixed a typo in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was intended to allow certain real estate businesses and retailers to write off the costs of certain property improvements right away, instead of over time. However, due to a

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More time for 1031 exchanges, opportunity zone investors

The IRS is giving investors with like-kind exchange or opportunity zone investment deadlines between April 1 and July 15 more time to complete their deals. The deadline is extended to July 15 for all taxpayers, including trusts, estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers. Like-kind exchanges under Section 1031 allow real estate investors to sell a single asset, such as condominiums or an office building, identify another property with a similar value to buy with the

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Dual agents: When the same realtor represents both the seller and buyer

When you sell your house, your real estate agent usually represents you throughout the process. And your agent has a fiduciary duty to you, which means he or she has a responsibility to act in your best interest. It is possible for the seller’s agent to represent the buyer as well. But how does that work in practice? The idea is that the “dual agent” manages all negotiations and paperwork between the buyer and seller and

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Free tax preparation help is available to seniors

Seniors and retirees should know that they may be able to use online tax preparation software free of charge. Most low- and middle-income Americans qualify for free help but do not take advantage of it, and all seniors, regardless of their income, are eligible for free counseling assistance from the Internal Revenue Service. The tax preparation software industry has had a decades-long deal with the IRS to make free versions of its software available to low-

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Turning 65? You may need sign up for Medicare Part B

If you are paying for your own insurance, you may not think you need to sign up for Medicare when you turn 65. However, not signing up for Medicare Part B right away can cost you down the road. You can first sign up for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period, which is the seven-month period that includes the three months before the month you become eligible (usually age 65), the month you are eligible and

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When inheriting real estate, consider your options

Inheriting real estate from your parents can be both a blessing and a burden. Figuring out what to do with the property can be overwhelming, so it is good to carefully think through all of your choices. There are three main options when you inherit real estate: move in, sell, or rent. Which one you choose will depend on your current living situation, whether or not you have siblings, the state of your finances, whether the

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How does the Coronavirus Relief Act affect seniors?

In addition to authorizing direct payments to most Americans, including seniors, the $2 trillion economic relief package that Congress passed to help Americans deal with the devastating financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic changes required retirement plan distributions for this year and includes Medicare-related provisions. Signed into law on March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided a one-time direct payment of $1,200 to individuals earning less than $75,000 per year

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Three changes you may want to make to your estate plan now

The unique aspects of the coronavirus pandemic may make it advisable to review your current estate plan. Language in estate planning documents that is fine under normal conditions may cause problems for you and your loved ones if you fall ill during the pandemic. Look over the following documents to see if they may need updating: Living will. A living will is a document that you can use to give instructions regarding treatment if you become terminally

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