Q: I plan on retiring in the next couple of years and will move to another state. I want to find a house there and buy it now while I still have an income and not just my pension. I figure I can get a better interest rate, and I could be paying down the new house while I still work. Could I take the mortgage off on my taxes? Which house would be considered my primary residence? — via askedith.com
A: On your tax return, you may deduct mortgage interest paid on two homes, up to more than $1 million borrowed. You may also deduct all property taxes you pay on any real estate you own. Your primary residence is the place you live most of the time. But if you buy a year or two before moving and don’t make the place your main home, you may not be offered the best mortgage rates after all. Add in the costs of carrying a second house and your supposed financial advantage will vanish.
Then again, it can be difficult to place insurance on vacant property, and you might be inviting vandalism. If you’re considering renting the new house out till you’re ready to move, it’s time to consult a tax professional. But frankly, being an amateur landlord, and an absentee one to boot, is asking for trouble.
The St. Joseph statue and real estate
Reading about a couple enlisting the aid of a statue of St. Joseph in selling their home prompted me to dig out a few of the letters this column has received over the years on the subject.
■ In December, we moved into our home. A friend came over with his dog and the dog dug up a religious statue. I remember reading something about it, but can’t get what to do straight. Is it for the seller, for good luck in selling the home? Or is it just for good luck for whomever is living in the home? Should we put it back? If so, is it to be buried upside down? This matter is really bothering us. — P. &L. H.
■ Does St. Joseph work for condo owners? If so, can I bury him on common property or does he go in a flowerpot in my unit? If I do use the courtyard, is his burial position in the back of my unit or the entire complex? Will I need board approval? — via askedith.com
■ At a recent tailgate party and after my second Bloody Mary, I assured a poor soul who had not yet sold her house and had moved into the new one, that she needed to bury St. Joseph in the backyard of the unsold house. She said she had heard of that, but as she is not a Roman Catholic, she had refrained from that tactic.
I am a Roman Catholic and assured her that religion didn’t enter into it and further advised her I’d find out what she needed to do. — J. M. K.
■ Saying religion had nothing to do with it is wrong. Unless you have faith, you might as well bury a statue of Elvis Presley. — via email@example.com
■ I read an article you wrote stating that if you bury a statue of St. Joseph in your backyard, you will have luck selling your property. I sent it to my daughter, who had her house for sale a long time and no luck.
She read the article, kept it, and within less than a month her house was sold. She never even had time to buy the statue and bury it. All she needed was the article you wrote. Thanks so much. — C. G.
Edith Lank will respond personally to any question sent to www.askedith.com or to 240 Hemingway Drive, Rochester NY 14620.