The GOP Tax Reform efforts are garnering headlines across the board as the potential for a new tax plan could have impacts on personal taxes, business, and of course, housing. How will the current proposal impact real estate? At a high level, the current bills would have impact on taxes and mortgages, which in turn could impact the larger market if they skew incentives of buyers, sellers, and homeowners. In both the House and Senate versions, homeownership still looks advantageous as compared to renting, and homeowners will always build equity as a result of price appreciation.
It is important to think of the plan in the context of the entire housing market, not just the Manhattan. Median prices in Manhattan are incredibly higher than the national average, so there are always unique impacts of any legislation in a city such as New York. Both plans are more beneficial for buyers at lower price points, specifically sub $300,000. With both plans, financial benefits of homeownership decrease as home price increases.
Under both plans, tax liabilities for homeownership will generally go up. Some propose eliminating deductions while others do not. Remember, property taxes stay with the owner for the life of the property, they do not go away like a mortgage payment once it is paid off. Both bills propose nearly doubling the standard deduction which in turn will reduce the number of people itemizing their return.
- Senate plan proposes eliminating state and local deductions, including property taxes. The House plan will leave the ability to make deductions, but will cap state and local deductions at $10,000.
- House Bill will result in nearly 1/5 of homebuyers experiencing a higher tax liability
- Senate bill will result in all buyers and current owners seeing an increased tax liability
The ability to deduct mortgage interest is one of the financial benefits of owning a home that, sometimes, can help in making it more efficient to own rather than rent. Currently, a homeowner can deduct interest on mortgages up to $1 million.
- House bill will cut this deduction to $500,000 while the Senate bill leaves the deduction unchanged
- According to CoreLogic, fewer than 3% of mortgages are over $500,000
- it is not certain whether this would apply to new mortgages only, or also to existing ones BUT the version of the bill that the House passed would leave the deduction where it is for existing loans. Because of this, people might want to consider closing before year's end.
So how would these changes impact the market? Given the higher costs of homeownership in both bills, buyers may not purchase as expensive of homes as pricier homes generally come with higher tax liabilities which could be even higher now. On the other hand, current owners could be more incentivized to just stay put and not trade up to larger homes or move to cities where a job is as cities are generally higher taxed areas.
Overall, the largest impacts of the bills would be in high tax states such as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California given the proposals to eliminate various deductions. Of course, the road to tax reform is long, and it is unsure what will be in the version of the bill that comes out in the end, if any.