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Summit County, CO: Mountain Living Real Estate Blog

The Mountain Living Team


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Are you getting the home tax deductions you're entitled to?

by The Mountain Living Team
Owning a home can pay off at tax time. Take advantage of these home ownership-related tax deductions and strategies to lower your tax bill:

Mortgage Interest Deduction

One of the neatest deductions itemizing homeowners can take advantage of is the mortgage interest deduction, which you claim on Schedule A. To get the mortgage interest deduction, your mortgage must be secured by your home -- and your home can be a house, trailer, or boat, as long as you can sleep in it, cook in it, and it has a toilet.

Interest you pay on a mortgage of up to $1 million -- or $500,000 if you’re married filing separately -- is deductible when you use the loan to buy, build, or improve your home.

If you take on another mortgage (including a second mortgage, home equity loan, or home equity line of credit) to improve your home or to buy or build a second home, that counts towards the $1 million limit.

If you use loans secured by your home for other things -- like sending your kid to college -- you can still deduct the interest on loans up $100,000 ($50,000 for married filing separately) because your home secures the loan.

Prepaid Interest Deduction

Prepaid interest (or points) you paid when you took out your mortgage is generally 100% deductible in the year you paid it along with other mortgage interest.

If you refinance your mortgage and use that money for home improvements, any points you pay are also deductible in the same year.

But if you refinance to get a better rate or shorten the length of your mortgage, or to use the money for something other than home improvements, such as college tuition, you’ll need to deduct the points over the life of your mortgage. Say you refi into a 10-year mortgage and pay $3,000 in points. You can deduct $300 per year for 10 years.

So what happens if you refi again down the road?

Example: Three years after your first refi, you refinance again. Using the $3,000 in points scenario above, you’ll have deducted $900 ($300 x 3 years) so far. That leaves $2,400, which you can deduct in full the year you complete your second refi. If you paid points for the new loan, the process starts again; you can deduct the points over the life of the loan.

Home mortgage interest and points are reported on Schedule A of IRS Form 1040.

Your lender will send you a Form 1098 that lists the points you paid. If not, you should be able to find the amount listed on the HUD-1 settlement sheet you got when you closed the purchase of your home or your refinance closing.

Property Tax Deduction

You can deduct on Schedule A the real estate property taxes you pay. If you have a mortgage with an escrow account, the amount of real estate property taxes you paid shows up on your annual escrow statement.

If you bought a house this year, check your HUD-1 settlement statement to see if you paid any property taxes when you closed the purchase of your house. Those taxes are deductible on Schedule A, too.

PMI and FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums

You can deduct the cost of private mortgage insurance (PMI) as mortgage interest on Schedule A if you itemize your return. The change only applies to loans taken out in 2007 or later.

What’s PMI? If you have a mortgage but didn’t put down a fairly good-sized down payment (usually 20%), the lender requires the mortgage be insured. The premium on that insurance can be deducted, so long as your income is less than $100,000 (or $50,000 for married filing separately).

If your adjusted gross income is more than $100,000, your deduction is reduced by 10% for each $1,000 ($500 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return) that your adjusted gross income exceeds $100,000 ($50,000 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return). So, if you make $110,000 or more, you can’t claim the deduction (10% x 10 = 100%).

Besides private mortgage insurance, there’s government insurance from FHA, VA, and the Rural Housing Service. Some of those premiums are paid at closing, and deducting them is complicated. A tax adviser or tax software program can help you calculate this deduction. Also, the rules vary between the agencies.

Vacation Home Tax Deductions

The rules on tax deductions for vacation homes are complicated. Do yourself a favor and keep good records about how and when you use your vacation home.

If you’re the only one using your vacation home (you don’t rent it out for more than 14 days a year), you deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes on Schedule A.

Rent your vacation home out for more than 14 days and use it yourself fewer than 15 days (or 10% of total rental days, whichever is greater), and it’s treated like a rental property. Your expenses are deducted on Schedule E.

Rent your home for part of the year and use it yourself for more than the greater of 14 days or 10% of the days you rent it and you have to keep track of income, expenses, and allocate them based on how often you used and how often you rented the house.

Homebuyer Tax Credit

This isn’t a deduction, but it’s important to keep track of if you claimed it in 2008.

There were federal first-time homebuyer tax credits in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

If you claimed the homebuyer tax credit for a purchase made after April 8, 2008, and before Jan. 1, 2009, you must repay 1/15th of the credit over 15 years, with no interest.

The IRS has a tool you can use to help figure out what you owe each year until it’s paid off. Or if the home stops being your main home, you may need to add the remaining unpaid credit amount to your income tax on your next tax return.

Generally, you don’t have to pay back the credit if you bought your home in 2009, 2010, or early 2011. The exception: You have to repay the full credit amount if you sold your house or stopped using it as primary residence within 36 months of the purchase date. Then you must repay it with your tax return for the year the home stopped being your principal residence.

The repayment rules are less rigorous for uniformed service members, Foreign Service workers, and intelligence community workers who got sent on extended duty at least 50 miles from their principal residence.

Energy-Efficiency Upgrades

The Nonbusiness Energy Tax Credit lets you claim a credit for installing energy-efficient home systems. Tax credits are especially valuable because they let you offset what you owe the IRS dollar for dollar, in this case, for up to 10% of the amount you spent on certain upgrades.

The credit carries a lifetime cap of $500 (less for some products), so if you’ve used it in years past, you’ll have to subtract prior tax credits from that $500 limit. Lucky for you, there’s no cap on how much you’ll save on utility bills thanks to your energy-efficiency upgrades.

Among the upgrades that might qualify for the credit:

  • Biomass stoves
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
  • Insulation
  • Roofs (metal and asphalt)
  • Water heaters (non-solar)
  • Windows, doors, and skylights

File IRS Form 5695 with your return.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice; tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.

Article written by Dona DeZube
‚Äč “Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®."

January gives a strong thumbs up to the state of the Summit County real estate market

by The Mountain Living Team

When 2016 ended the year with slightly fewer sales than 2015 it gave us some pause.  We began to wonder if this was an indicator.  Has the steady increase in our residential real estate market begun to stutter?  Unfortunately, there was no one to give us an answer.  All we could do was wait and see what would happen in the coming months and re-evaluate.  Well, just one month has gone by and so far, the market is still looking strong.  

January residential sales in Summit County posted strong sales, up 29.8% over January 2015 with 113 sales.  That beats January sales for the last 9 years and 14 of the last 17 Januarys!  The only years with stronger January sales this century were 2001, 2006 and 2007.   

As usual, Breckenridge had the bulk of the January sales with 42%.  Frisco contributed the least with just 8% of the sales.  That could be partially due to the very low inventory levels in Frisco.  Frisco has only 4% of the inventory in the county but managed 8% of the sales.  Dillon is in a similar situation with only 3% of the inventory but carrying 11.5% of the January sales. 

Both Land Sales and Partial Ownership Sales were strong in January.  January sales in those categories, however, barely make a dent in the annual sales numbers.

We will continue to watch the market as we push further into 2017.  January is giving us no indication that the market is stalling and it is actually looking very strong.  It's impossible to know the future all we can do is try and spot the subtle clues we see and hopefully interpret them correctly.  Let us know if you have questions about the Summit County real estate market.  We're here to help with any of your Summit County, Colorado needs.  

The 2017 Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Champions have been chosen!

by The Mountain Living Team

Breckenridge Snow Sculptures

If you haven't been to Breckenridge during the snow sculpture championships you need to make it a point to get here soon.  It's amazing what these people can do with a block of snow.  I can barely build a snowman let alone sculpt some of the intricate designs these artists carve out.  The winner of the 2017 International Snow Sculpture Championships; China2017 is no exception.  This years sculptures are worth a visit!  Consider a night time viewing too.  Colored lights shine on the whittled snow creating beautiful displays and a completely different experience than you'll have during the day.  It's free to see the sculptures located in RiverWalk in Breckenridge.  These warm temperatures make it hard for the artwork to last the entire week so wait until the last day to visit.  Weather permitting, they will be around through Super Bowl Sunday, February 5th.  This year's winner was China although my personal favorite was created by the local Breckenridge team.Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge Colorado

Another beautiful sculpture

Why do I need a real estate agent in a hot market?

by The Mountain Living Team

RealtorWhen the real estate market is hot, homeowners sometimes wonder why they need a real estate agent to sell their home.  An appraisal will tell them the right price.  All they have to do is tell people their home is for sale, maybe put an ad in the paper, and they will have an abundance of buyers.  What they may not be considering is what happens after they find a buyer. 

Usually a home is an emotional purchase.  Buyer and seller will be dealing with their emotions when negotiating price and potential repairs.  Emotion has a tendency to cause problems in negotiations.  What are you going to do if the person on the other side starts to cry?  Or if they are angry and yelling at you?  Your real estate agent is often repositioning the emotion into a constructive element.

Once you’re under contract there are dates and deadlines.  There are lenders and title companies.  There are inspectors and appraisers.  If you’re using a purchase contract approved by the Colorado real estate commission it is long and full of legal jargon that is difficult to decipher.  Having someone on your side to help with all these details is great, especially if something goes awry. 

Your real estate agent does so much more than just put your home in the MLS.  A lot of behind the scenes work goes on in every transaction we handle.  The sale or purchase of your home is often the biggest financial transaction of your life.  Wouldn’t you prefer it be handled by a professional?


2016: Year in Review

by The Mountain Living Team

2016 was very much a seller's market; very tight inventory and rising prices.  Buyers struggled to find properties, often compromising or waiting.  Indecisive or out of town buyers often missed properties as they were snatched up by ready buyers.  More properties than usual seemed to come back on the market because quick acting buyers, after doing further research, decided the property wasn't right for them.  Moves between properties in the county were more difficult because replacement properties were hard to come by.  That caused many sellers to hold off on selling.  

  • Residential inventory is down 24.7%

  • Residential sales were down 4% year over year.

  • Average sales price for residential properties in Summit County is up 5.8% to $595,390.

  • Average price per square foot for residential properties is up 6.9% to $376.45

  • The average days it takes for a residential property to sell is down 26.8% to 82 days, just under 3 months.

  • The list price to sales price ratio for residential properties in Summit County is 97.42%.  That's slightly better than 2015's 96.63%

  • The most expensive home to sell in 2016 sold for $6,400,000.

  • Breckenridge has the highest average sale price at $781,274.

  • Copper Mountain has the lowest average sale price at $381,719.

  • Land sales are improving but it is still a buyer's market in most areas.  

There are just over 300 residential properties for sale in all of Summit County.  Around 600 properties would be a more reasonable amount of properties for this time of year.  During our most recent downturn, Summit County had around 2000 residential properties available for sale.

No one can say for sure where the Summit County real estate market is headed.  I anticipate the first half of 2017 will be more of the same with tight inventory and rising prices.  The second half of the year is still too far away.

Foote's Rest redevelopment approved

by The Mountain Living Team

Foote's Rest Sweet ShoppeThe town of Frisco approved the Foote's Rest development that would add a hotel, restaurant and bowling alley in the current Sweet Shoppe location and relocate the historic building.  They have said they are willing to place a historic building tag on the Foote's Rest building in order to preserve it's place in Frisco's history.  More details are available in a Summit Daily article. The timing of the development is still up in the air.

Foote's Rest was previously a mercantile & gas station and before that a grocery and post office.  The historic building to be relocated is known as the Staley-Rouse House, built by the Staleys in 1908.  Unfortunately, Mr Staley was killed in an unrelated wagon accident during the construction of the home and never lived in it.  His wife and children moved in upon completion in early 1909.  Electricity was added by Larry Wright, one of the future owners, in 1972.  Read more about these buildings in the nomination form for the Colorado Historical Society.

Pay Parking in Breckenridge

by The Mountain Living Team

Passport ParkingIf you want to park on Main Street in Breckenridge you've got to pay.  

In an effort to eliminate long term parking happening on town streets, the town of Breckenridge has rolled out pay parking.  Main Street as well as surrounding roads now have parking meters requiring registering your license plate and/or payment.  Rates vary based on location but generally the first 15 minutes are free, although you do need to register your plate.  You don't need to have change in your pockets to feed the meters these days but you will need to have a credit card or have a smart phone with the Passport Parking Mobile Pay App installed and payment set up within the app.  The mobile app offers great features like adding time from your phone and storing all your license plates.

The feedback I have heard so far is all positive.  There are more parking spaces available on Main Street making finding a spot much easier.  The app makes it easy to pay and rates are reasonable.  

I haven't tried to park in Breckenridge since the meters have been implemented so I don't have first hand experience yet.  Any comments about your experiences with the new pay parking are welcome.

Market Comparison: Frisco vs The Highlands

by The Mountain Living Team

With the low inventory levels in the real estate market buyers are being forced to look outside their initial target area in order to have more to choose from.  That means the area that they have been following during their search may not be where they end up looking and/or buying.  As a result, they can be less informed about the area and what to expect in property values.  

Recently, buyers we have been working with expanded their search from Frisco to The Highlands in Breckenridge.  They were curious as to how The Highlands compares to single family homes in Frisco.  I did a little research and put together a few charts to help them determine if The Highlands was, financially, a place they wanted to be. 

Average Sale Price

The average sale price in the Highlands is much higher than it is in Frisco.  Because of the higher price point I think it makes the market more volatile; reacting more substantially to economic trends.  

Average Price Per Square FootThe  average price per square foot is surprisingly similar given the difference in sales prices.  Frisco is more inconsistent.  I believe that is because the single family homes in Frisco vary more in age and quality than we see in The Highlands.  An abundance of any type of home sales can swing the averages for that year. 

Average List to Sales PriceThe average list price to sales price ratio tells us how much sellers are coming off their list price.  This is based on the current list price at the time of the sale and doesn't include any price reductions made prior to an offer being accepted.  More properties on the market typically will push sellers into deeper discounts in order to secure a buyer.

Average Days on Market

This chart tells us that most of the time a Frisco home will sell quicker than a home in the Highlands.  It also shows us the average days on the market is a largely fluctuating number and that we are currently in a downward trend meaning homes are selling quicker than in the past.  

As with any averages, it must be understood that before making matter of fact claims the numbers must be dug deeper into.  A few sales can impact an average made from a limited section of data.  The Summit County market is a small market making it more susceptible to a few sales.  If you have questions about any of these statistics we are happy to dig deeper into them and provide you the information you need.  Just let us know via email or a comment on this post.

Inventory levels and the real estate market

by The Mountain Living Team

Real estate, like most commodities, is a supply and demand market.  Low supply and high demand create a tight market.  High supply and low demand create a saturated market. 

During a saturated market, there are an abundance of properties.  That abundance gives buyers their pick of properties and makes sellers compete to get one of the few buyers out there.  That competition drives prices down and the condition of the properties up as sellers search for an edge.  Buyers have all the control resulting in the real estate term “Buyer’s Market.”

Tight markets have few properties to choose from and too many buyers for those few properties.  That can create multiple offers on properties and bidding wars between buyers as they compete for the property.  Tight markets drive home prices up, increase the number of cash offers and decrease the contingencies in contracts as the buyers try and get the sellers attention.  Not every buyer can find a property to buy, however.  They end up watching the market and waiting for another home to come along.  Sellers have all the control in this market, thus the term “Seller’s Market.”

SOLD!Our market is definitely a Seller’s Market.  Inventory is low and demand high.  Prices have been pushed up over the summer and we have buyers waiting on the sidelines for a property.  This time of year our inventory levels drop as many sellers or would-be sellers rent their properties for ski season or use them themselves and they wait until after ski season to put it up for sale.  Our buyer demand goes down somewhat too because buyers are too busy skiing and enjoying winter in Summit County.  They don’t bother with looking at real estate.  This winter will be a little different.  There are a lot of buyers out there that wanted a place last summer and couldn’t find one.  They are still waiting for something to come along.  New listings over the winter months will get more attention than normal from those buyers.  That extra demand will continue to fuel the increasing pricing and properties will continue to be snatched up relatively quickly.  When next summer arrives, the supply of buyers on the sidelines will be somewhat depleted and there will suddenly be more properties on the market for them. 

If you are considering selling your Summit County home, this year is a little different than years past.  You’d be wise to list ahead of the competition and grab one of those buyers that missed out last summer.  If you’re a buyer, hang in there, something will come along eventually.

The market condition is like a pendulum.  It is never still; always moving from one type of market to another.   We’re currently almost as far as the pendulum can travel in one direction.  At some point, it will start to swing the other direction again.

Contact The Mountain Living Team today and make the most of the current real estate market.

Here's a related post you might enjoy:
2016- A year of scarcity in residential real estate


2016 - a year of scarcity in residential real estate

by The Mountain Living Team

Inventory levelsWe currently sit at 404 residential properties in the entire county for sale.  Of those 404, 213 are priced over one million dollars.  Of the 203 Summit County residential properties that sold in October only 25 were priced over one million dollars.  That means 178 people spending under one million dollars in just one month.  We only have 191 properties under one million dollars on the market right now.  That’s a severe shortage!  This isn’t the first time the market has looked like this during 2016.  It is the tightest market we have seen but every month this year has a very similar story.  Not many properties for sale. With monthly sales averaging approximately 150 homes per month we need closer to 900 properties on the market at all times.

Inventory levels do fluctuate seasonally every year.  Our highest inventory levels are generally seen in the summer and dip to its lowest point at the end of the year.   Our peak inventory level was just under 700 this year, hit in early August, and we haven’t hit our low yet.  As you can see from the chart, we have been seeing inventory falling steadily since 2009.


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Photo of Jason & Meredith Adams Real Estate
Jason & Meredith Adams
The Mountain Living Team at Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties
400 Main St / PO Box 4115
Frisco CO 80443